DESMA 156: 3D Modeling and Motion

Spring 2023,  Monday/Wednesday 2pm-4:50pm, BROAD 4230

Instructor: Zheng Fang <[email protected]>

TA: Wiley Wiggins <[email protected]>

Office hours:
Zheng <Wednesday, 1-2 pm, BROAD 4230>

Wiley <TBD>

Software: Cinema 4D (Blender/Maya/etc), ZBrush, RealityCapture(RealityScan/3DF Zephyr/meshroom), Substance Painter, Unity (UE4/5)

Recommended extra hardware: Tablet/Smartphone

Discord Server:


The syllabus is subject to change depending on the needs of the class.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to theories of 3D form, spatial design, motion and lighting using 3D visualization, image/video tools, and interactivity. The first half of the course involves weekly exercises and assignments focused towards an understanding of virtual in relation to real form. The second half is devoted to individual projects. The basic structure of the class is having an assignment critique and a workshop on Monday, a tutorial and working hours on Wednesday.

Course Objectives

Understanding the basic workflow of 3D modeling and motion graphics. Including hard surface modeling, lighting, character rigging, 3D animation, material, rendering, and interactive environments. Learning software of Cinema 4D, ZBrush, 3DF Zephyr, Substance Painter, Unity, etc.

Technical Exercises

Exercises are assigned weekly between Projects. They are opportunities to practice, learn software, experiment, and even fail. Exercises can be incorporated into Projects, as well.

Creative Projects

Creative projects offer an opportunity not only to delve into the aesthetics of 3D but also to explore conceptual ideas. In other words, they allow you to go beyond the visual aspects and push your thinking in new directions
The details of the projects will be released later in the class.


Grades will be determined with the following % breakdown:

10% – Participation

20% – Exercises

30% – Projects A + B

40% – Final Project

Work will be evaluated on how well it demonstrates understanding of the class material, the effort and progress throughout the project development, conceptual creativity, aesthetic quality, and technical skills.

Late projects and assignments will be penalized by one letter grade per day, and will not be accepted if more than three days late.

Participation involves actively engaging in critique or discussions, responding to readings (when assigned), sharing ideas in class, and contributing to conversations on our Discord.

Exercises are assigned between Projects. Students can use Exercises as opportunities to practice, learn software, experiment, and even fail. Exercises can be incorporated into Projects, as well.

Projects A + B should fulfill stated requirements to earn a good grade. Higher scores will be given to Projects that show ingenuity, consideration for aesthetics, and serious conceptual investment.

The final projects will be individual project that represent what you have learned throughout the quarter.

NEVER use any downloaded pre-made 3D models in your exercises or projects without my permission, even if they are open-sourced or have been customized by you.
This behavior will be regarded as plagiarism.


Participation means doing your work, sharing your thoughts, asking questions, preparing for meetings, and offering feedback to your peers. This class is meant to be a safe learning space in which you feel encouraged and supported in learning and taking creative risks. Challenge yourself and be encouraging of others as they do the same. Be attentive and considerate to your classmates.

The Discord workspace functions as our virtual classroom. Participation in this case means sharing your thoughts and inspirations, posting work-in-progress, giving feedback to other people’s posts, sending messages to the instructor if you have questions.

Discord Server

Discord is a social app that we will use throughout the class to discuss projects, field technical questions, and share inspiration. Being active on our Discord will count toward Participation!

You can download Discord here:

Join our class channel here:

Render Server

A render server has been set up for DMA classes. This will be helpful for animation projects. Israel Gutierrez is the render wrangler in order to help keep the renders flowing.

Land Acknowledgement

The University of California, Los Angeles occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Tongva and Chumash peoples. Our ability to gather and learn here is the result of coercion, dispossession, and colonization. We are grateful for the land itself and the people that have stewarded it through generations. While a land acknowledgment is not enough, it is first step in the work toward supporting decolonial and indigenous movements for sovereignty and self-determination. Read more about what land you’re occupying: 

Commitment To Diversity & Safer Spaces

We understand the classroom as a space for practicing freedom; where one may challenge psychic, social, and cultural borders and create meaningful artistic expressions. To do so we must acknowledge and embrace the different identities and backgrounds we inhabit. This means that we will use preferred pronouns, respect self-identifications, and be mindful of special needs. Disagreement is encouraged and supported, however our differences affect our conceptualization and experience of reality, and it is extremely important to remember that certain gender, race, sex, and class identities are more privileged while others are undermined and marginalized. Consequently, this makes some people feel more protected or vulnerable during debates and discussions. A collaborative effort between the students, TA, and instructor is needed to create a supportive learning environment. While everyone should feel free to experiment creatively and conceptually, if a class member points out that something you have said or shared with the group is offensive, avoid being defensive; instead approach the discussion as a valuable opportunity for us to grow and learn from one another. Alternatively if you feel that something said in discussion or included in a piece of work is harmful, you are encouraged to speak with the instructor or TA. *Statement adopted from voidLab at: 

Center For Accessible Education (CAE)

Students needing academic accommodations based on a disability should contact the Center for Accessible Education (CAE) at (310) 825-1501 or in person at Murphy Hall A255. When possible, students should contact the CAE within the first two weeks of the term as reasonable notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. For more information visit 

Undergraduate Writing Center

The Undergraduate Writing Center is a free service for all UCLA students, providing one-on-one appointments. Appointment topics include course papers, capstone projects, senior thesis papers or application materials (resumes, CVs, statements of purpose or cover letters).

Academic Integrity And Information On Student Conduct

UCLA is a community of scholars. In this community, all members including faculty, staff and students alike are responsible for maintaining standards of academic honesty. As a student and member of the University community, you are here to get an education and are, therefore, expected to demonstrate integrity in your academic endeavors. You are evaluated on your own merits. Cheating, plagiarism, collaborative work, multiple submissions without the permission of the professor, or other kinds of academic dishonesty are considered unacceptable behavior and will result in formal disciplinary proceedings usually resulting in suspension or dismissal. As specified in the UCLA Student Conduct Code, violations or attempted violations of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to, cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, multiple submissions or facilitating academic dishonesty. When a student is suspected to have engaged in academic dishonesty, Academic Senate regulations require that the instructor report the allegation to the office of the Dean of Students. For more information, see the UCLA Student Conduct Code.


UCLA prohibits gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. If you have experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence, there are a variety of resources to assist you. 

Confidential Resources

You can receive confidential support and advocacy at the CARE Advocacy Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, 1st Floor Wooden Center West, [email protected], (310) 206-2465. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) also provides confidential counseling to all students and can be reached 24/7 at (310) 825-0768. 

Non-confidential Resources

You can also report sexual violence or sexual harassment directly to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, 2241 Murphy Hall, [email protected], (310) 206-3417. Reports to law enforcement can be made to UCPD at (310) 825-1491. These offices may be required to pursue an official investigation. 

Faculty and TAs are required under the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment to inform the Title IX Coordinator—A NON-CONFIDENTIAL RESOURCE—should they become aware that you or any other student has experienced sexual violence or sexual harassment.

Psychological Health, Well-being And Resilience

UCLA is renowned for academic excellence, and yet we know that many students feel overwhelmed at times by demands to succeed academically, socially and personally.  Our campus community is committed to helping all students thrive, learn to cope with stress, and build resilience. Remember, self-care is a skill that is critical to your long-term success.  Here are some of the many resources available at UCLA to support you:

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): Provides counseling and other psychological/mental health services to students. Walk-in hours are Monday-Thursday 8am-4:30pm and Friday 9am-4:30pm in John Wooden Center West. Crisis counseling is also available 24 hours/day at (310) 825-0768. 

Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center: Provides high quality and accessible ambulatory healthcare and education by caring professionals to support the academic success and personal development of all UCLA students.

Healthy Campus Initiative (HCI): Provides links to a wide variety of resources for enhancing physical and psychological well-being, positive social interactions, healthy sleep, healthy eating, healthy physical activity and more.

Campus and Student Resilience: Provides programs to promote resilience and trains students to help support their peers.

UCLA Recreation: Offers a broad array of services and programs including fitness, yoga, dance, martial arts, meditation, sports, and much more.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Committed to providing an equal learning, working and living environment at UCLA and supports a range of programs to promote these goals campus-wide.

UCLA GRIT Coaching Program: GRIT stands for Guidance, Resilience, Integrity and Transformation. In this program, UCLA students receive individualized support from trained peer coaches to manage stress, foster positive social connections, set goals, and navigate campus resources.

Resources for Students Dealing with Financial Stress 

Economic Crisis Response: provides support and guidance to students who have self-identified, or are identified by UCLA faculty or staff, as experiencing a financial crisis that impacts their academic success at UCLA.

Bruin Shelter: provides a safe, supportive environment for fellow college students experiencing homelessness by fostering a collaborative effort between universities, community-based organizations, and service providers.

The CPO Food Closet: provides free food for any UCLA student who may be experiencing hunger and/or struggling to attain food due to financial hardships.